Violin/buying a used violin


HI, I would like to buy my 7yr. old daughter a used violin.  I am looking at a Roth 1/4 and a Karl Knilling 1/4.  The Knilling is a little bit more beat up, but it is a better instrument?  Thanks so much for your help!

Hi Pauline,

Thanks for your question.  Both Roth and Knilling make a wide range of student quality instruments, so there no real comparison that can be made just between the names.  But, regardless of the model, you can count on them being reasonably well made, compared to many instruments that are out there - on EBay for example.

The real question is how well these particular instruments have been setup.  This is typically done by the dealer who sells the instrument.  A good setup is vital for playability and tone quality.  I would recommend having both violins checked out by your daughter's teacher, if possible.  You need to make sure that the strings are the right height off the fingerboard, the right distance from each other, etc.  Take a close look at the bridge to see if it looks well carved.  Unfortunately, there are a great many of these instruments out there that have badly carved bridges and poor setups.  So, it's not at all unlikely that both will need some love and care from a reputable violin shop before they will be useable.  Again, I'd advise getting them checked by a pro, before buying, if possible.

As for them being beat-up . . . Cosmetics aside, you'll want to make sure that they don't have any cracks, open seams, etc., and that the post and bridge are in good condition.  Again, I'd advise getting them checked before buying, as many important issues are not immediately obvious to the untrained eye.

Best of luck!

Jim Fisher


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James S. Fisher


Please Note: For an accurate appraisal of your instrument's value or history, I must advise you to take it to a local luthier or string shop for an evaluation. It's really not possible to do this with any accuracy via email.

However, I am happy to answer other questions about violins, bows, violin playing, and violin/bow repair. I can also talk with you about what bows, rosin, strings, cases, shoulder rests, etc. might work best for you and your particular instrument. (There are some great new products on the market.) I've taught violin and fiddle playing for the past 18 years and will answer questions about playing and technique.


I've been studying the violin for over thirty years. I started teaching in 1996. In addition to my training at Lebanon Valley College and at the Violin Institute, I handle violins, bows, and customer questions of all sorts on a daily basis in my shop - J.S. Fisher Violins,


I hold a Bachelor of Music degree from Lebanon Valley College, as well as certificates in violin repair, violin maintenance, and bow rehairing from the Violin Institute at the University of New Hampshire.

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